HDR Milestone Presentation by Helena Gregorczuk

Title: Retail Analytics, Big Data Logics and Fair Collection under Australian Privacy Law

Advisors: Dr Alan Davidson and Dr Rebecca Ananian-Welsh

When:  1-1.45pm Friday 20 November, 

Where: Boardroom (W353), Level 3, Forgan Smith building (1).


Bricks and mortar stores in trying to compete with their online counterparts are gathering data in their stores. Targeted advertising and personalisation involves extensive data gathering and now with the power of ‘big data’ analytics techniques there is the ability to collect everything, analyse it in surprising ways and keep it forever. The technologies and processes used in data gathering are often not well understood by the public and can be seen as intrusive or creepy – for example shopping centre billboards fitted with cameras and software which analyses faces for their age, ethnicity, gender, mood and even tracking eye movements.  Mobile phone tracking in order to see where customers go and how long they spend in particular parts of a shopping centre. Profiles can be created and inferences drawn based on this data.

How compatible are these practices with Australian privacy laws? The Privacy Act requires that personal information be collected through fair and lawful means. These new practices however don’t always clearly fall within the definition of the collection of ‘personal information’. Even where they do, the Act relies on notice and consent to establish fairness but are these sufficient in a world with big data, where individual consumers don’t read privacy policies and even where they do are unlikely to fully understand what data is being collected and what is being done with it. Is the system designed to make it opaque and difficult to understand? And if this is the case then should the term ‘fair’ be read in a way that includes more than just notice and consent?


Level 3, Forgan Smith building (1)
Boardroom (W353)